March trade surplus biggest since 2002; yearly trade deficit contracts further

March trade surplus biggest since 2002; yearly trade deficit contracts further
New Zealand recorded a trade surplus of NZ$324 million (8% of exports) in March, the biggest for the month since 2002, figures released by Statistics New Zealand (Stats NZ) show. Exports during the month rose 17.7% to NZ$4 billion from March 2008, while the value of imports rose 6.9% to NZ$3.7 billion. The New Zealand dollar jumped above 56 USc following the news. For the year ended March 2009, New Zealand's trade deficit was NZ$4.8 billion, compared to NZ$4.5 billion in the year ended March 2008. The yearly deficit has been decreasing since the year ended December 2008. March was the first month in which the value of merchandise exports reached NZ$4 billion, Stats NZ said. The figure was helped by the sale of large aircraft, valued at NZ$128 million. Exports of meat and edible offal rose by 25.8% to NZ$0.6 billion in March from a year ago. In what may be more good news for farmers following the increase in Fonterra's payout forecast yesterday, exports of milk powder, butter and cheese rose 4.5% to NZ$0.8 billion in March from a year ago. This rise came after year-on-year falls of 28%, 1% and 12% in February, January and December, respectively. By destination, exports to Australia rose 33.1% to NZ$0.9 billion from March 2008, following year-on-year falls in the previous three months. Exports to China were up almost 120% due to whole milk powder, logs, and milk-based nutritional powder exports, Stats NZ said. Imports during March reached the highest value for any March month, led by imports of machinery and equipment for wind-powered electricity generation.

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